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Can a hot bath beat a bike ride for good health?

As soon as you get home, the first thing you want to do is run yourself a soothing, hot bath.
Now, the latest research shows that baths are not only great for unwinding and soaking away the stresses of the day, they can also play an important role in boosting your immune system, help skin conditions like eczema and even alleviate serious medical disorders. Warm baths can also help lower blood sugar levels, relieve painful joints and muscles, and help to keep your bowels working properly. Not to mention that it is an amazingly good therapy for lower back pain.

Feel the heat

A hot bath is liquid psychotherapy. It raises our body temperature and as our body temperature rises we sweat. Sweating helps to bring toxins to the surface of our skin so they can be eliminated through the largest organ of our body, our skin. Detoxification is enhanced even further by increased circulation. Heat encourages the deeper flow of blood and lymph fluids as the vessels dilate. Higher temperatures also boost body functions, including heart rate and metabolism. With our bodily processes efficiency increased, detoxification is enhanced.

Hot baths are also goods for slight colds and headaches as well as refreshing tired feet. Pour enough hot water into the bath or a bowl to cover your feet and ankles and add a few drops of an essential oil such as lavender, peppermint, thyme or lemon. Finish by rinsing your feet with cold water.

Hot bath can also help lower blood sugar levels, relieve painful joints and muscles, and help to keep your bowels working properly. Yeast infections such as thrush can be helped by adding three or four cups of cider vinegar, preferably organic, to your bath of warm water. It is also very good for detoxifying the body as the vinegar helps to restore its acid/alkaline balance.

For skin conditions such as eczema, hives or rashes, adding some baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to your bath can make a big difference. It acts as a mild antiseptic, opens the pores and relieves itching and skin irritation. Fill the bath with lukewarm water, add about a pound of baking soda and mix well.

Flow of endorphins

During this increased temperature your body releases endogenous opioid peptides, which are primarily endorphins. That is why you might feel like a new person after a hot bath. This natural chemical makes you feel good and strengthens our immune system, improves sleep and helps prevent headaches.

Endorphins are the same chemicals released when you exercise. In fact, a hot bath post-exercise is a great way to ease sore muscles, aches, and pains. The increased circulation helps elimination the lactic acid build-up in our muscles that occurs from a hard workout.

The ultimate relax

Finally, the heat increases our ability to release muscle tension and relax. Studies show that hot water immersion can significantly enhance the balance between our parasympathetic (relaxation) and sympathetic (stress) components of the nervous system. Essential oils can enhance our relaxation response in the bath. We breathe differently when we are around a scent that we love, so add 6-12 drops of your favorite essential oil or sprinkle 3-5lb of sea salt into the water and mix in well for a thoroughly relaxing bath.

Contraindications

There are some complications from a hot bath if you suffer from a chronic condition, so check with your doctor before heat hydrotherapy. Hot bathing is also not recommended if you are pregnant.

Do not make your bath crazy hot. Superheated baths actually get your nervous system revved up, and the relaxation is a bit of an illusion. And remember: trigger points are eased by heat, and usually irritated by cold.

Hydrate for enhanced elimination

You sweat under water. In a hot bath, oddly enough, you can really lose a quite a lot of fluid. A headache is the most common consequence of dehydration so you must replace lost fluids to feel good after a hot bath. Being dehydrated can reverse some of the benefits you just gained. Be sure to drink water before and after the bath to stay hydrated. Now it is time to fight the seasonal depression: have a bath and relax.